“The Richness Of His Grace” ( Ephesians 1: 7, HCSB ) by Carley Evans



“We have redemption in [Christ] through His blood.” Yes, our redemption is through Christ’s blood, and not through the Law, not through our good deeds, not through our own efforts. Rather, we are given “the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavishes on us with all wisdom and understanding.” (Ephesians 1:7-8) Christ’s grace is the cause of our redemption; this grace which He continues to “lavish on us.” Imagine the richness of the love a mother lavishes on her newborn baby — a pale reflection of the love and grace Christ lavishes on us “with all wisdom and understanding.”

And “the gift is not like the trespass.” “Where sin multiplies, grace multiplies even more so that, just as sin reigns in death, so also grace reigns through righteousness, resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord.” (Romans 5:15, 20-21)

“What are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” (Romans 8:31) “Who can bring an accusation against God’s elect? God is the One who justifies.” (Romans 8:33) “Who can separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35)

“Trust The God Of Hope” ( Romans 15: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Through His Holy Spirit, God “gives endurance and encouragement.” (Romans 15:5) “The God of hope fills [us] with all joy and peace as [we] trust in Him.” (Romans 15:13) “[We] overflow with hope.” (Romans 15:13) “To the [people] who do not work but trust God who justifies the wicked, [our] faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5) “Therefore, [we] glory in Christ Jesus in [our] service to God. [We] do not venture to speak of anything except what Christ accomplishes through [us] in leading [others] to obey God by what [we] say and do — through the power of the Spirit.” (Romans 15:17-19)

Notice we begin with God and end with Him as well — His Holy Spirit encourages us and enables us to endure; giving us hope, joy and peace. We find our glory in Jesus Christ and our power through His Holy Spirit. “Since we are now justified by His blood, how much more are we saved from God’s wrath through Him!” (Romans 5:9)

So, continue to trust God. Through trust in Him, we overflow with hope.

“Imagining Maturity In Christ” ( Ephesians 4: 13, NIV ) by Carley Evans


Can you imagine “unity in the faith?” Can you imagine “becoming mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ?” Can you imagine not being an “infant?”

Our hope is to become united in our knowledge of Jesus Christ — i.e. no longer divided or “tossed back and forth…by every wind of teaching.”

“Solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” (Hebrews 5:14) The good we seek is this unity in Christ; the evil we dread and should always flee is division, bickering, backbiting, unfounded criticism, and hatred of our brothers and sisters who are in Christ.

“You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written: ‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before Me; every tongue will confess to God.’ So, then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore, let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:10-13)

Our fervent prayer is to be mature in Christ, to stand together as one church — as the whole body of Christ, and as His bride.

“Your Mind Remade” ( Romans 12: 2, NEB ) by Carley Evans


“Adapt yourselves no longer to the pattern of this present world, but let your minds be remade and your whole nature thus transformed. Then you will be able to discern the will of God, and to know what is good, acceptable, and perfect.”

 

To know God’s will, writes Paul, you must allow “your mind [to] be remade.” As your mind is “remade,” “your whole nature [is] thus transformed.” A transformation occurs; the old nature is progressively destroyed as your thinking is altered. Simultaneously, the new nature is progressively “put on.” You take off the old, and put on the new.

 

The power to achieve this transformation is given to you by God’s own Holy Spirit. Rather than adjusting to “this present world,” Paul implores you to “offer your very self to [God]: a living sacrifice, dedicated and fit for His acceptance, the worship offered by mind and heart.” (Romans 12: 1)

 

“So come to Him, our living Stone — the stone rejected by men but choice and precious in the sight of God. Come, and let yourself be built, as [a] living stone, into a spiritual temple; become a holy priest, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2: 4-6)

 

“You are now [one of] the people of God, who once was not His [own]; outside His mercy once, you have now received His mercy.” (1 Peter 2: 10)

 

God is building you — transforming you from a person of “this present world” into “a living sacrifice,” “a spiritual temple,” “a holy priest.” Allow your mind to be remade.

“How Much More Are We Saved” ( Isaiah 53: 12, NIV ) by Carley Evans


“For He bears the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Jesus bears our sins in His body on the tree; and He lives forever, seated at the right hand of God the Father, continually interceeding for us.

This ongoing intercession of Jesus Christ is our salvation. Without His interventions on our behalf, we would not be acceptable to God the Father.

“Since we are now justified by His blood, how much more are we saved from God’s wrath through Him! For if, when we are God’s enemies, we are reconciled to Him through the death of His Son, how much more, having been reconciled, are we saved through His life!” (Romans 5: 9 – 10)

This is why Peter is able to say, “Perfect love casts out fear.” No need for fear exists now that Jesus sits on His throne. He has conquered death; and we are made acceptable. Fear has to do with judgment. For us, judgment is complete, having occurred on the Cross.

“Outdo One Another” (Romans 12: 10, ESV) by Carley Evans


Love each other, says Paul. Love each other in the same way you love your siblings — with a brotherly or sisterly affection. “Outdo one another in showing honor.”

Paul says, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” (Romans 12: 14) “Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all.” (Romans 12: 17)

And, he writes: “Let love be genuine.”
And, “Hold fast to what is good.”

Holding fast to the good is such a map for happiness. If you see the good in the other, then you are able to bless the other even as he curses you. If you see the good in the moment, then you will not repay evil for evil. Instead you will do what is perceived as honorable to all. Such a paradox exists in the Christian walk. We walk by faith, hoping for that which is unseen. Our hope is that good will outdo evil, that perfection will triumph over imperfection, that God will be triumphant over the evil one.

And of course God is triumphant and good does overcome evil. Perfection does overwhelm imperfection, and holiness swallows sin.

Therefore, let your love be true. Hold fast to the good. “Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.”

“Without Excuse” (Romans 1: 20, HCSB) by Carley Evans


Paul writes, “People are without excuse.”

We are without excuse because God’s existence and “His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen since the creation of the world, being understood through what He has made.”

We know God exists, yet we choose not to “glorify Him as God or show gratitude.” (Romans 1: 21) Instead, we create our own gods — worshiping self, money, power, even “images resembling mortal man, birds, four-footed animals, and reptiles.” (Romans 1: 23)

“All who make idols are nothing, and what they treasure does not profit. Their witnesses do not see or know anything, so they will be put to shame. Who makes a god or casts a metal image for no profit? Look, all its worshipers will be put to shame.” (Isaiah 44: 9 – 11)

God says, “I Am the Lord, and there is no other. I form light and create darkness, I make success and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things.” (Isaiah 45: 6 – 7)

“I sweep away your transgressions like a cloud, and your sins like a mist. Return to Me, for I redeem you. Rejoice, heavens, for the Lord acts; shout, depths of the earth. Break out into singing, mountains, forest, and every tree in it. For the Lord redeems.” (Isaiah 44: 22 – 23)

“Therefore, any one of you who judges is without excuse. For when you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things.” (Romans 2: 1)

We are without excuse, for God reveals Himself in His creation. Worship not the creation, but its Creator.

” ‘Yes’ To Us” (Romans 15: 13, HCSB) by Carley Evans


We hope, says Paul, “by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Without Him, we have no hope; we have no peace; we have no joy. God — the Holy Spirit — is the seal who is “a down payment in our hearts” guaranteeing our inheritance. (2 Corinthians 1: 22) “For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who is preached among you by [Paul] and Silvanus and Timothy does not become ‘Yes and No’; on the contrary, a final ‘Yes’ comes in Him. For every one of God’s promises is ‘Yes’ in Him.” (2 Corinthians 1: 19 – 20)

Therefore, “[we] stand by faith.” (2 Corinthians 2: 1) As we believe in Christ, we find our joy and peace in Him, in knowing that God says, “Yes’ to us rather than ‘No!” God the Father is able to say ‘Yes’ to us because His Son dies for us, washes us clean of our sin, and deposits in us His Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes us holy, setting us apart for God the Father. He enables us to do the good works God prepares in advance for us. “For it is God who is working in [us], enabling [us] both to desire and to work out His good purpose.” (Philippians 2: 13)

“So then, my brothers [and sisters]..in this manner stand firm in the Lord, dear friends.” (Philippians 4: 1)

“The Promise Rests On The Gift of Faith” (John 3: 17, ESV) by Carley Evans


“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.”

God’s intention is not to condemn the world, but to save it. God saves the world not through adherence to the law but through faith in His Son.

“For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring.” (Romans 4: 13 – 16)

God’s promise to save the world is guaranteed by grace and depends on faith in His Son. While wrath comes through the law; righteousness comes through faith.

“If a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” (Galatians 3: 21 – 22)

How are we to believe? We believe in Jesus Christ by the power of God in the gospel.

“The gospel…is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’ (Romans 1: 16 – 17)

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2: 8)

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3: 16)

“Renewal Of Your Mind” (Romans 12: 2, ESV) by Carley Evans


Paul says that we are saved by faith. James says faith without works is dead. Together faith and works make up our salvation.

The work we do emerges naturally from the renewing of our minds. If our minds are right, then our works will be right. We must have a correct understanding of God, of who He is, what His plan is, and what small parts we play in this event called the universe.

This is not to say that we have to be smart as smart is understood by the world. Rather, we must know the Word of God. The Word must permeate us completely so that in any situation God will bring to mind the exact verse or parable or person of the scriptures to help us in that situation.

Without the Word embedded, we are vulnerable to the world and to our enemy, who hates us because it hates God.

Renewing your mind with the Word of God is a major portion of your armor against evil — your own and that of other people.

“In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.” (Ephesians 6: 16 – 18)